Guatemalan, adj., n.
/gwah'teuh mah"leuh/; Sp. /gwah'te mah"lah/, n.
1. a republic in N Central America. 11,558,407; 42,042 sq. mi. (108,889 sq. km).
2. Also called Guatemala City. a city in and the capital of this republic. 917,322.

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Introduction Guatemala
Background: Guatemala was freed of Spanish colonial rule in 1821. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had led to the death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees. Geography Guatemala -
Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Honduras and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico
Geographic coordinates: 15 30 N, 90 15 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 108,890 sq km water: 460 sq km land: 108,430 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Tennessee
Land boundaries: total: 1,687 km border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km
Coastline: 400 km
Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau (Peten)
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Volcan Tajumulco 4,211 m
Natural resources: petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 12.54% permanent crops: 5.03% other: 82.43% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,250 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms Environment - current issues: deforestation in the Peten rainforest; soil erosion; water pollution Environment - international party to: Antarctic Treaty,
agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Antarctic- Environmental Protocol
Geography - note: no natural harbors on west coast People Guatemala
Population: 13,314,079 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.8% (male 2,841,486; female 2,725,343) 15-64 years: 54.5% (male 3,629,363; female 3,630,273) 65 years and over: 3.7% (male 227,369; female 260,245) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.57% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 34.17 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.67 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/ female total population: 1.01 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 44.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 66.85 years female: 69.66 years (2002 est.) male: 64.16 years
Total fertility rate: 4.51 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.38% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 73,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 3,600 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Guatemalan(s) adjective: Guatemalan
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish or assimilated Amerindian - in local Spanish called Ladino), approximately 55%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian, approximately 43%, whites and others 2%
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Languages: Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (more than 20 Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 63.6% male: 68.7% female: 58.5% (2000 est.) Government Guatemala
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Guatemala conventional short form: Guatemala local short form: Guatemala local long form: Republica de Guatemala
Government type: constitutional democratic republic
Capital: Guatemala Administrative divisions: 22 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Peten, Quetzaltenango, Quiche, Retalhuleu, Sacatepequez, San Marcos, Santa Rosa, Solola, Suchitepequez, Totonicapan, Zacapa
Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Constitution: 31 May 1985, effective 14 January 1986; note - suspended 25 May 1993 by former President SERRANO; reinstated 5 June 1993 following ouster of president; amended November 1993
Legal system: civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal (active duty members of the armed forces may not vote)
Executive branch: chief of state: President Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO Cabrera (since 14 January 2000); Vice President Juan Francisco REYES Lopez (since 14 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO Cabrera (since 14 January 2000); Vice President Juan Francisco REYES Lopez (since 14 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 7 November 1999; runoff held 26 December 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003) election results: Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO Cabrera elected president; percent of vote - Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO Cabrera (FRG) 68%, Oscar BERGER Perdomo (PAN) 32%
Legislative branch: unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (113 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 7 November 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003) note: for the 7 November 1999 election, the number of congressional seats increased to 113 from 80 election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FRG 63, PAN 37, ANN 9, DCG 2, UD/LOV 1, PLP 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (thirteen members serve concurrent five-year terms and elect a president of the Court each year from among their number; the president of the Supreme Court of Justice also supervises trial judges around the country, who are named to five-year terms); Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitutcionalidad (five judges are elected for concurrent five-year terms by Congress, each serving one year as president of the Constitutional Court; one is elected by Congress, one elected by the Supreme Court of Justice, one appointed by the President, one elected by Superior Counsel of Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, and one by Colegio de Abogados) Political parties and leaders: Authentic Integral Development or DIA [Jorge Luis ORTEGA]; Democratic Union or UD [Jose Luis CHEA Urruela]; Green Party or LOV [Jose ASTURIAS Rudecke]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Pablo MONSANTO, also known as Jorge SOTO]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; New Nation Alliance or ANN [leader NA], which includes the URNG; National Advancement Party or PAN [Leonel LOPEZ Rodas]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES Molina] Political pressure groups and Agrarian Owners Group or UNAGRO;
leaders: Alliance Against Impunity or AAI; Committee for Campesino Unity or CUC; Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations or CACIF; Mutual Support Group or GAM International organization BCIE, CACM, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-24,
participation: G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ariel RIVERA Irias chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908 telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador
US: Prudence BUSHNELL embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City mailing address: APO AA 34024 telephone: [502] 331-1541/55 FAX: [502] 334-8477
Flag description: three equal vertical bands of light blue (hoist side), white, and light blue with the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms includes a green and red quetzal (the national bird) and a scroll bearing the inscription LIBERTAD 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821 (the original date of independence from Spain) all superimposed on a pair of crossed rifles and a pair of crossed swords and framed by a wreath Economy Guatemala -
Economy - overview: The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products. Former President ARZU (1996-2000) worked to implement a program of economic liberalization and political modernization. The 1996 signing of the peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused relatively little damage to Guatemala compared to its neighbors. Ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, and increasing the efficiency and openness of both government and private financial operations. Despite low international prices for Guatemala's main commodities, the economy grew by 3% in 2000 and 2.3% in 2001. Guatemala, along with Honduras and El Salvador, recently concluded a free trade agreement with Mexico and has moved to protect international property rights. However, the PORTILLO administration has undertaken a review of privatizations under the previous administration, thereby creating some uncertainty among investors.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $48.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,700 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 23% industry: 20% services: 57% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 60% (2000 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 1.6%
percentage share: highest 10%: 46% (1998) Distribution of family income - Gini 55.8 (1998)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7.6% (2001)
Labor force: 4.2 million (1999 est.) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 50%, industry 15%, services 35% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.5% (1999 est.)
Budget: revenues: $2.1 billion expenditures: $2.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Industries: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism Industrial production growth rate: 4.1% (1999) Electricity - production: 5.929 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 50.35% hydro: 44.54% other: 5.11% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 4.797 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 840 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 123 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
Exports: $2.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity
Exports - partners: US 57%, El Salvador 8.7%, Costa Rica 3.7%, Nicaragua 2.8%, Germany 2.6% (2000)
Imports: $4.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners: US 35.2%, Mexico 12.6%, South Korea 7.9%, El Salvador 6.4%, Venezuela 3.9% (2000)
Debt - external: $4.5 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $212 million (1995)
Currency: quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code: GTQ; USD
Exchange rates: quetzales per US dollar - 8.0165 (January 2002), 7.8586 (2001), 7.7632 (2000), 7.3856 (1999), 6.3947 (1998), 6.0653 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Guatemala Telephones - main lines in use: 665,061 (June 2000) Telephones - mobile cellular: 663,296 (September 2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: fairly modern network centered in the city of Guatemala domestic: NA international: connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)
Radios: 835,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 1.323 million (1997)
Internet country code: .gt Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2000)
Internet users: 65,000 (2000) Transportation Guatemala
Railways: total: 884 km narrow gauge: 884 km 0.914-m gauge (single-track) note: much of the railway is inoperable (2001 est.)
Highways: total: 13,856 km paved: 4,370 km (including 140 km of expressways) unpaved: 9,486 km (1998)
Waterways: 990 km note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during highwater season
Pipelines: crude oil 275 km
Ports and harbors: Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Merchant marine: none (2002 est.)
Airports: 475 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 11 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 464 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 9 914 to 1,523 m: 123 under 914 m: 331 (2001) Military Guatemala
Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 3,186,894 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 2,080,504 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching military males: 140,358 (2002 est.)
age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $120 million (FY99)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 0.6% (FY99)
GDP: Transnational Issues Guatemala Disputes - international: the "Line of Adjacency", established as an agreed limit in 2000 to check squatters settling in Belize, remains in place while OAS assists states to resolve Guatemalan territorial claims in Belize and Guatemalan maritime access to the Caribbean Sea
Illicit drugs: transit country for cocaine and heroin; minor producer of illicit opium poppy and cannabis for mostly domestic consumption; proximity to Mexico makes Guatemala a major staging area for drugs (cocaine and heroin shipments); money laundering is a serious problem; corruption is a major problem

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officially Republic of Guatemala

Country, Central America.

Area: 42,042 sq mi (108,889 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 11,971,000. Capital: Guatemala City. Mayan Indians constitute more than half of the population; Ladinos, mostly of mixed Hispanic and Indian origin, make up about two-fifths. Language: Spanish (official). Religion: Roman Catholicism. Currency: quetzal and U.S. dollar. Guatemala has extensive lowlands in the Petén portion of the Yucatán Peninsula and along the littoral of the Caribbean Sea in the north. Mountains occupy about half the total area and cut across the country's midsection. The northern tropical rainforests of the Petén are rich in fine woods and rubber. Guatemala has a developing market economy based largely on agriculture and is Central America's leading coffee producer. It is a republic with one legislative body; its head of state and government is the president. From simple farming villages dating to 2500 BC, the Maya of Guatemala and the Yucatán developed a sophisticated civilization. Its heart was the northern Petén, where the oldest Mayan stelae and the ceremonial centre of Tikal are found. Mayan civilization declined after AD 900, and the Spanish began subjugating the descendants of the Maya in 1523. Independence from Spain was declared by the Central American colonies in Guatemala City in 1821, and Guatemala was incorporated into the Mexican Empire until its collapse in 1823. In 1839 Guatemala became independent under the first of a series of dictators who held power almost continuously for the next century. In 1945 a liberal-democratic coalition came to power and instituted sweeping reforms. Attempts to expropriate land belonging to U.S. business interests (see United Fruit Company) prompted the U.S. government in 1954 to sponsor an invasion by exiled Guatemalans. In the following years Guatemala's social revolution came to an end, and most of the reforms were reversed. Chronic political instability and violence henceforth marked Guatemalan politics; most of some 200,000 deaths that resulted from subsequent political violence were blamed on government forces. Thousands more died in 1976 when a powerful earthquake devastated the country. In 1991 Guatemala abandoned its long-standing claims of sovereignty over Belize, and the two countries established diplomatic relations. It continued to experience violence as guerrillas sought to seize power. A peace treaty was signed in 1996, but political violence, including kidnapping and assassination, continued. The economy languished throughout the rest of the decade, and the government elevated the U.S. dollar to the status of national currency, along with the quetzal, in 2002.

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▪ 2009

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 13,002,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
Presidents Óscar Berger Perdomo and, from January 14, Álvaro Colom Caballeros

      Following his inauguration on Jan.14, 2008, Guatemalan Pres. Álvaro Colom launched an ambitious program of social reform. A Council of Social Cohesion, headed by his wife, Sandra Torres de Colom, coordinated educational and economic benefits for the rural poor. By July, Colom had improved access to drinking water, health care, and education, and he had initiated renewable sources of energy with hydroelectric and thermal projects. In March, however, Guatemala rejected daylight saving time in a move to prevent workers and children from having to walk in the early-morning darkness, when crime was highest.

      Inflation in food and energy prices increased living costs. Guatemala reduced its dependence on the U.S. economy by opening trade with India and China and negotiated new trade agreements with the EU, Brazil, and other Latin American countries. Remittances from Guatemalans abroad (mostly in the United States) remained very important; in 2007 they reached a record $4.13 billion. President Colom paid a state visit in April to Brazilian Pres. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

      Government efforts to reduce the high rates of violent crime were hampered by the degree to which organized crime and drug traffickers had infiltrated law enforcement. In September, Colom fired his security chief after discovering seven unauthorized listening devices and cameras in the presidential office and residence; the surveillance presumably had been engineered by organized crime. Guatemala was also a transit point for Colombian cocaine destined for the United States. Aid provided by the U.S. to suppress the drug traffic had failed to stem the tide of violence, exacerbated by gangs, police corruption, and overcrowded prisons. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visited Guatemala in June to promote the Mérida Initiative, designed to “help Mexico and Central America combat narcotrafficking, transnational youth crime, and terrorism.” A UN commission cooperated with the Guatemalan government to investigate judicial corruption and to reform its court system. Former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo, who had fled to Mexico in 2004 with some $15.7 million in embezzled public funds, was extradited in October.

      Guatemala's new National Adoption Council was brought into compliance with the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The council tightened regulations involving foreign adoptions and revealed that babies had been stolen amid widespread corruption in the former system, which was run by private lawyers. In February, following a six-year moratorium, the death penalty was reinstated in Guatemala; President Colom vetoed the legislation the following month, however.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2008

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 12,728,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Óscar Berger Perdomo

  Álvaro Colom of the centre-left National Union for Hope (UNE) on Nov. 4, 2007, won the presidency of Guatemala in a runoff election, defeating retired general Otto Pérez Molina of the right-wing Patriot Party (PP). Colom, who would take office in 2008, took 53% of the vote. Fourteen candidates vied for the presidency in the first round on September 9, including indigenous leader Rigoberta Menchú, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Despite Guatemala's majority indigenous population, Menchú, who ran a lacklustre campaign, garnered only 3% of the vote in the September election. In congressional elections, Colom's UNE led with 48 seats in the 158-member unicameral legislature, far short of a majority. Pérez's PP won just 30 seats, and the ruling government's Grand National Alliance (GANA) captured 37. Violence marked the long campaign; more than 50 candidates or campaign workers were assassinated. Guatemala's high crime and street violence became a major campaign issue, and General Pérez's law and order campaign accounted for his strong showing at the polls. The high rate of government corruption was another major issue.

      The assassination in Guatemala in February of three Salvadoran deputies to the Central American Parliament focused international attention on the country's lawlessness and on police corruption, especially after four Guatemalan policemen arrested for the crime were subsequently murdered in prison. An investigation eventually blamed the murders on drug traffickers, who had become powerful in Guatemala; the country continued to serve as a major transit route for Colombian cocaine to the U.S.

      The government took steps to regulate more closely the adoption of Guatemalan babies. Guatemala had the world's highest per capita adoption rate and was second only to China in total U.S. adoptions of foreign infants. Amid growing charges of kidnapping and corruption, the U.S. Department of State recommended against adoptions there, and the Guatemalan Congress finally ratified the Hague Convention on Adoptions. There were also charges that Guatemalan child traffickers had taken children to Mexico and the U.S. for prostitution.

       U.S. Pres. George W. Bush visited Guatemala in March to promote trade under the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA–DR). The heightened security for the visit disrupted commerce, prompting natives to complain that their country had been violated by Bush's “security invasion force.” Bush encouraged Guatemala to increase its production of ethanol from sugarcane. The country would soon have five sugarcane-based ethanol plants in operation, and plans were afoot for three more. Under CAFTA–DR Guatemalan imports had increased much more than exports, and living standards had not improved as expected; 51% of the population subsisted on less than $50 monthly, and 15% earned less than $21 per month.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2007

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 13,019,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Óscar Berger Perdomo

      Guatemalan Pres. Óscar Berger promised to promote more transparency in government and to attack corruption more aggressively, but in April 2006 the U.S. Department of State reported that while Guatemala's government “generally respected” human rights laws, the country's “justice system abuses continued, including unlawful killings by police, harsh and dangerous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and failure to ensure due process.” Nevertheless, that same month Guatemala was elected to a seat on the newly formed UN Human Rights Council, and in October, with staunch U.S. backing, it repeatedly defeated Venezuela in a contest for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council. There continued to be a low level of citizen participation in the political process, and violent crime and gang violence remained a serious problem. The government assigned 2,400 former soldiers to back up the police. Berger's government made greater progress in its reforms of business laws and regulations, and Guatemala was ranked eighth in a World Bank survey of 175 countries making reforms in facilitating new business enterprises.

      The Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) went into effect in July, but delays in implementation caused temporary declines in textile exports, a situation exacerbated by the U.S.'s lifting of quotas for Chinese manufactures. There was also a 10% minimum-wage increase in January. CAFTA-DR divided Guatemalans; peasant, labour, and indigenous groups staunchly opposed it, while business, export interests, and the government believed it would attract more foreign investment and promote economic growth. In June Guatemala also signed a trade accord with Belize in a “first step” toward a free-trade agreement between the two countries. Guatemala continued to claim much Belizean territory, including an area where oil was recently discovered.

      Despite the embarrassment of the arrest and conviction in the U.S. of Adán Castillo, the head of Guatemala's drug-enforcement agency, on drug-trafficking charges, the Guatemalan government cooperated with the U.S.'s War Against Drugs by destroying dozens of clandestine airstrips in the sparsely populated region of Petén and quashing the cultivation of poppies elsewhere in the country. The U.S. increased military aid to Guatemala for these operations, notwithstanding the Guatemalan military's notorious reputation for drug trafficking, smuggling, and harsh treatment of the indigenous population.

 In October the U.S. forgave about 20% of Guatemala's $108 million debt to Washington in return for conservation work in four nature reserves in tropical and subtropical forests and in coastal mangrove areas. Reconstruction in communities damaged by Hurricane Stan (2005) continued. Although major highways reopened, some temporary repairs were still unfinished, and others were washed out during the annual rainy season. In August there was a major eruption of the Pacaya volcano near Guatemala City.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2006

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 12,599,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Óscar Berger Perdomo

 More than 1,000 people perished in early October 2005 as Hurricane Stan's torrential rains triggered mud slides on lands already saturated by a heavier-than-usual rainy season. Especially hard hit were the western highlands around Lake Atitlán, where whole communities washed away. Together with rising energy costs, the damage to roads and bridges threatened the moderate economic growth that Guatemala had enjoyed. In May the World Bank agreed to provide $780 million between 2005 and 2008 to promote Guatemalan economic development and fight poverty in collaboration with President Óscar Berger's “Vamos Guatemala” program. That program sought to stimulate economic growth through investment in housing, infrastructure, tourism, finance, and forestry and to increase productivity through technological innovation and growth of exports. Guatemala also signed agreements with Mexico and the other Central American states to conserve energy and reduce fuel costs.

      Guatemala ratified the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in March. Amid noisy protests from labour unions, the government argued that CAFTA-DR, scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2006, would increase exports and reverse the trend of Guatemala's losing markets to Asian producers, especially in the garment industry. Soon thereafter, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Guatemala and declared that the U.S. would resume military aid to the country. U.S. military aid had been frozen because of human rights violations by the Guatemalan military. Rumsfeld said that the restoration of aid would help the Guatemalan army combat terrorism, drug trafficking, and juvenile gangs. Following the catastrophic landslides in October, Rumsfeld met again with Guatemala's security ministers to discuss both disaster relief and U.S. security concerns. President Berger also met with Brazilian Pres. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which resulted in several new agreements between the two countries, including a plan to import more Brazilian goods for reexport to the U.S. under CAFTA-DR.

       Gang violence and drug-related crimes continued to be a problem in Guatemala. The vigilante death squads, which had assassinated gang leaders and others, appeared to be privately organized and tolerated by the government. Criticism of the police, however, led to the firing of more than 500 of the National Civil Police's 22,000 officers for corruption, kidnapping, assault, drug trafficking, homicide, and rape. Of particular concern was the rising incidence of violent crimes against women. The government announced in June that it would try to attack the socioeconomic roots of juvenile gang violence, but on August 15 at least 35 gang members died in Guatemalan prison riots that some believed were encouraged by officials.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2005

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 12,661,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
Presidents Alfonso Portillo Cabrera and, from January 14, Óscar Berger

      Newly inaugurated Guatemalan Pres. Óscar Berger of the Grand National Alliance coalition promised in 2004 to increase productivity and create jobs in a country where 60% of the population lived in poverty. He also formally recognized the government's responsibility for much of the country's violence by compensating peasants for lands and lives lost during the civil war (1961–96). Berger turned over the Casa Crema—a former presidential palace and headquarters for the army for the past 40 years—to the Academy of Mayan Languages and Maya TV, which would broadcast Mayan programming. He also named Nobel laureate and indigenous peoples spokesperson Rigoberta Menchú to take charge of the implementation of the 1996 peace accords.

      Nonetheless, murder, violence against women, kidnappings, land conflicts, and violations of human rights continued. Berger praised a plan for a UN-appointed special prosecutor to investigate human rights abuses, but some government and military officials delayed its progress. In January the first military officer convicted of a war crime, Col. Juan Valencia Osorio, escaped into hiding before being incarcerated. Former president Alfonso Portillo, under investigation for corruption and malfeasance after Guatemala's Constitutionality Court removed his immunity from prosecution, fled to Mexico in February. In March, however, the government placed former dictator Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt under house arrest pending trial for having organized a violent political riot during the last presidential campaign. Berger used army troops to control the rising crime while reducing the size of the army by one-third to one-half and shifting some military personnel to police duty.

      Conditions for women improved in reproductive health and education, thanks to six new hospitals built and equipped by Cuba. Since 1998, in areas of Guatemala where some 200 Cuban doctors worked, the infant-mortality rate in Guatemala had fallen from 40 to 16 per 1,000 live births and the incidence of many epidemic diseases had been significantly reduced. About 600 Guatemalans were studying medicine in Havana.

      Guatemala signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and other Central American states on May 28. The country also took the lead in a new customs union that would integrate the Central American economies more fully.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2004

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 12,347,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera

      Political violence and disruption characterized Guatemala during 2003. Opponents of Pres. Alfonso Portillo accused his administration of corruption, fraud, and incompetence. Overshadowing the president in the public eye, however, was Efraín Ríos Montt, head of the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front and the leading contender to succeed Portillo as president. Ríos Montt had previously been deemed ineligible for the presidency, but in July the Court of Constitutionality ruled that he could run in the November election. Though there was widespread criticism of this decision, Ríos Montt withstood all legal challenges. Oscar Berger of the Grand National Alliance and Alvaro Colom of the National Unity of Hope party were Ríos Montt's principal challengers in the election. In the first round of voting, held on November 9, Ríos Montt finished well behind both Berger and Colom, and in the December 28 runoff, Berger claimed the presidency with 54% of the vote to Colom's 46%. Berger was set to take office on Jan. 14, 2004.

      Negotiations for a U.S.–Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) continued throughout the year, but serious disagreements delayed conclusion of a treaty. After Pres. George W. Bush met with the Central American presidents in April, Guatemala unilaterally proposed to allow most U.S. goods to enter the country duty-free, but this angered the other Central American states. In January the U.S. decertified Guatemala as an ally in its war on drugs; it did not implement penalties, however, and the decertification was thus rendered largely symbolic. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency repeatedly charged that Guatemala was a transshipment point for Colombian cocaine and heroin. Guatemala's refusal to support the U.S.-led war in Iraq brought the Portillo government considerable popular support but contributed to a cooling in U.S. relations.

      Human rights violations continued to haunt Guatemala, and thousands of Guatemalans fled their country for Mexico and the U.S. In 2003 the Bush administration's policy against illegal immigration led to the forcible repatriation of many. The Inter-American Press Association cited Guatemala for restraints on press freedom after President Portillo allegedly threatened and intimidated editors. Press credibility, however, increased, as did newspaper circulation. When a Guatemalan appeals court on May 7 reversed the conviction of a military officer who had allegedly ordered the 1990 assassination of sociologist Myrna Mack, international criticism of the Guatemalan judicial system soared. Strikes and labour unrest were also on the rise; a teachers' strike shut down the country's school system for several weeks early in the year.

      Guatemalan Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruno was among 31 new cardinals named by Pope John Paul II in September.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2003

109,117 sq km (42,130 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 11,987,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera

      During 2002 Guatemala suffered from serious economic difficulties and widespread crime. Low coffee prices contributed to Guatemala's declining export revenues, as did a serious drought on the Pacific coast. Declining investments and unemployment exacerbated widespread poverty and social injustice. Pres. Alfonso Portillo was implicated in multimillion-dollar corruption schemes, but he resisted demands from civic organizations that he resign, citing improvements in health, education, road construction, and housing programs and a declining inflation rate during his tenure. Worker discontent was reflected in peasant seizures of land and massive protests, to which Portillo responded with land distributions to 38,000 farmers and increases in the minimum wage and other benefits for urban workers. Nevertheless, a Vox Latina poll showed that only 8% of respondents had any confidence in Portillo and 41.2% regarded him as the worst president in Guatemalan history.

      Guatemala joined other Central American countries in responding favourably to U.S. Pres. George W. Bush's support for a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. In March Bush promised to speed up negotiations for a free-trade agreement while recommending that Central American states pass legislation to make the agreement work.

      Political assassinations and human rights violations continued to plague Guatemala, but the 30-year prison sentence given during the year to Col. Juan Valencia Osorio for having ordered the 1990 murder of sociologist Myrna Mack marked the first time that a high-ranking Guatemalan military officer had been brought to justice for human rights abuses. There were accusations that Efraín Ríos Montt, president of the Congress and head of the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front party, directed secret forces threatening human rights advocates and labour leaders and that the government was failing to implement the 1996 peace accord.

      Thousands welcomed Pope John Paul II to Guatemala on July 29, and on the following day the pope canonized Pedro de Betancur (1619–67), a former shepherd who founded the international Bethlehemite Order. Although born in the Canary Islands, Betancur spent his career in Guatemala helping the poor and ill. He was Central America's first saint.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2002

108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 11,687,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera

      Scandals eroded support for the government of Alfonso Portillo Cabrera during 2001, beginning with the continuing legislative investigation known as “Guategate.” The governing Guatemalan Republican Front sought to prevent the trial of 24 indicted members of its congressional delegation, including President of the Congress Efraín Rios Montt. In April a court exonerated Rios Montt, but controversy continued along with other charges of government corruption, financial mismanagement, and conflict of interest. Portillo's frequent foreign journeys and the high crime rate were further sources of criticism, and rumours spread of an impending coup d'état.

      On the positive side, despite repeated death threats to judges and witnesses, a Guatemalan court on June 8 convicted and sentenced three military officers to 30 years in prison for the 1998 murder of human rights advocate Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera. The murder on May 5, 2001, of a former investigator for Gerardi, Barbara Ann Ford, an American nun who had worked in Guatemala for two decades to promote social justice, prompted new outcries against human rights violations.

      Declining coffee prices and high oil prices hurt the Guatemalan economy during the year, although increased banana exports helped offset lower banana prices. On March 15 Guatemala began a limited free-trade agreement with Mexico and other Central American states, but it excluded Guatemalan coffee and sugar. Free circulation of the dollar and other hard currencies began on May 1 in a measure designed to improve Guatemala's trading position. On August 1 the sales tax rose from 10% to 12%, accompanied by social improvements mandated by the 1996 peace accord, including a higher minimum wage and regulations to bring Guatemala into compliance with international labour standards. Mass protests resulted as opponents charged that these measures increased inflation and discouraged investment. Most employers ignored the minimum-wage increase. Many measures agreed to in the peace accord had yet to be implemented. The UN's 2001 Human Development Index, based on life expectancy, educational attainment, and per capita GDP, ranked Guatemala lower than any other country in the Americas except Haiti.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2001

108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 11,385,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen and, from January 14, Alfonso Portillo Cabrera

      Taking office as president of Guatemala on Jan. 14, 2000, Alfonso Portillo Cabrera of the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) promised to reduce the army's power and to revitalize the economy. More than 75% of the population continued to live in poverty, however, and, despite Portillo's efforts to curb it, the military remained strong. In Guatemala City five persons died in protests against increased bus fares in April. In September a scandal involving manipulation of an alcohol tax bill by Congress president Efraín Rios Montt brought new problems to the FRG.

      Death threats, kidnappings, assassinations, and intimidation of judges by right-wing paramilitary groups continued to trouble Guatemala. Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú and Guatemalan human rights organizations filed a class-action suit before a Spanish court against Rios Montt and seven other Guatemalan military and civilian officials for alleged crimes relating to the 1980 burning of the Spanish embassy in Guatemala City, during which 39 Guatemalans died. Soon afterward victims of human rights abuses filed cases in Guatemalan courts. Three military officers were arrested and charged with the 1998 assassination of human rights activist Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera.

      In July, Portillo ordered the army to assist the police in combating crime. Fearing for their safety, he also sent some members of his own family to Canada, a move that hardly inspired public confidence. Some wealthy families also left the country, but perhaps more significant was the heavy emigration of poorer Guatemalans, who moved to Mexico and the United States. Their remittances to friends and relations in Guatemala were second only to coffee in total value to the nation's economy. In late December Guatemala announced that the U.S. dollar as well as other foreign currencies could be used along with the quetzal, the official currency.

      Under a pact with the U.S. to combat drug trafficking, on April 18 three helicopters and 450 U.S. soldiers, pilots, technicians, and special agents arrived in Guatemala to begin operations. In June, Guatemala signed a free-trade agreement with Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government continued its claim to more than half the territory of Belize, calling on the latter to accept international arbitration of the dispute.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 2000

108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 11,090,000
Guatemala City
Head of state and government:
President Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen

      Violence and human rights abuses haunted Guatemala in 1999. The April 1998 assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, who had spent three years documenting atrocities committed during Guatemala's 36-year civil conflict, remained unsolved amid growing evidence of military responsibility for the crime. Intimidation forced judges and prosecutors in the case to resign, while assassinations of other prominent labour, indigenous, and leftist political leaders reversed the trend of earlier years toward greater respect for human rights. A midyear survey revealed that 88% of Guatemalans considered the administration of justice in the country inadequate. By mid-September vigilantes had lynched more than 70 persons, and a UN-sponsored report called Guatemala City the most dangerous city in the Americas.

      The repatriation of an estimated 40,000 Guatemalan refugees who had fled to Mexico during the 1980s was completed in early 1999, with another 22,000 choosing to remain in Mexico. Indigenous Mayans sought to increase their political representation during the year by organizing their own party, the National Civic Political Forum of Mayan Unity and Fraternity, in February. Mayans held only six of the 80 seats in Guatemala's Congress, even though they constituted more than 60% of the country's population.

      Reconstruction of agricultural and transport infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Mitch moved ahead in 1999, helped by $1.6 billion in international aid, though excessive rains during the year caused new damage and contributed to the shutdown of many banana plantations. Falling sugar and coffee prices also contributed to declining export revenues, and the housing industry faced difficulties because of higher interest rates. Tourism thrived, however, and new air service to Cuba promised to attract more Europeans to Guatemala. The economy grew at an estimated rate of 3.9% during 1999, but inflation was estimated at 6.8% by year's end.

      A spirited campaign led up to the November 7 general election, in which Alfonso Portillo of the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) won 48% of the votes cast compared to 31% for Guatemala City Mayor Óscar Berger of the ruling National Advancement Party. The leftist coalition New National Alliance candidate, Álvaro Colom Caballeros, finished a distant third with 12%. In the runoff on December 26, Portillo was elected president with 68% of the vote. The founder and leader of the FRG, former president Gen. Efraín Rios Montt, won election to Congress and was to serve as president of that body.

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

▪ 1999

      Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 10,802,000

      Capital: Guatemala City

      Head of state and government: President Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen

      On April 26, 1998, two days after he co-presented the "Guatemala: Never Again" report on the 36-year civil conflict, Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera was bludgeoned to death in what was immediately interpreted as a political murder. International condemnation of the killing was swift, and Pres. Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen declared three days of national mourning and established a Cabinet-level investigative commission. The report blamed the army for some 80% of the approximately 150,000 deaths and 50,000 disappearances during the conflict, which ended in December 1996. The bishop had spent three years researching the atrocities with the aim of achieving a reconciliation and future peace. The UN Human Rights Commission had recently voted to end its 19-year special scrutiny of Guatemala, a decision that was welcomed by all political parties. Human rights groups, however, opposed the decision and saw the assassination as proof that violations still existed. The murder investigation was complex, and the bishop's body was exhumed and reburied on September 17 after further examination of his remains failed to resolve doubts about how he died. Otto Ardón, the government prosecutor investigating the affair, resigned on December 3, dogged by criticism that he had not seriously examined the role of the Guatemalan military in the killing.

      In May Guatemala became the first sovereign state to file a lawsuit against the American tobacco industry in order to recover health care costs related to tobacco. Although the amount of damages claimed was not specified, Guatemala sought three times the amount its government had had to pay for state-sponsored treatment of tobacco-related diseases.

      The government pushed ahead with its privatization policy. In September a consortium led by Iberdrola of Spain took control of the state electricity company after having successfully bid $520 million in July—the biggest transaction ever in Guatemala. At the beginning of October, the privatization of the state telecommunications company was completed. After several delays the sale went ahead even though there was only one offer received at the auction.

      In view of the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras and Nicaragua in October, Guatemala got off relatively lightly, although more than 250 deaths were reported.


▪ 1998

      Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 11,242,000

      Capital: Guatemala City

      Head of state and government: President Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen

      Following the peace treaty between the government and the guerrillas of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) on Dec. 29, 1996, a 155-member UN military observer mission went to Guatemala in February to oversee the demobilization of the rebel forces. By March 3, six camps totaling 3,614 armed URNG guerrillas had been set up for a 60-day disarmament process. In July the first major groups of refugees arrived from Mexico to occupy land bought for them by the government. About 10,000 of the estimated 30,000 refugees in Mexico were expected to return by the end of 1997. Several mass graves of Indians presumed killed by the army in 1981-82 were uncovered in Quiché province. It was claimed that there were at least 100 mass graves in the country, possibly containing some of the 45,000 people who disappeared during the civil war.

      The cost of implementing the peace accords was estimated at $2.6 billion over five years, of which more than half would come from other countries. The International Monetary Fund criticized the government's tax policy and urged reforms that would increase the government's income. In 1996 tax revenues were only 8.4% of gross domestic product, the second lowest in the region, with only Haiti lower at 7%. Peace brought economic rewards; tourism boomed, with an expected 10% increase to 500,000 visitors in 1997, while in January-June tourism income rose 11% to $153 million.

      The government pushed ahead with its plan to privatize state-owned companies. Empresa Guatemalteca de Telecomunicaciones (Guatel) was the biggest firm offered for sale in 1997, although there was opposition to that sale. A privatization bill was passed by Congress in March allowing state assets to be converted into shares, 5% of which would be sold to employees of the privatized companies. Appeals were made against the legislation, but in September the constitutional court upheld the law, clearing the way for the privatization of Guatel by the end of the year. Two power-generating stations were also sold as a first step toward privatizing the state electricity company, and others on the list included the railway company, airports, ports, the post and telegraph company, banks, and the tourism institute.


▪ 1997

      A republic of Central America, Guatemala has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 10,928,000. Cap.: Guatemala City. Monetary unit: quetzal, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 6.07 quetzales to U.S. $1 (9.56 quetzales = £ 1 sterling). Presidents in 1996, Ramiro de León Carpio and, from January 14, Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen.

      During the first round of voting for the Guatemalan presidency in November 1995, Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen of the conservative National Advancement Party gained insufficient votes to win outright. A runoff election was therefore held on Jan. 7, 1996, and Arzú defeated Alfonso Portillo of the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front by a narrow margin. Arzú's support came mainly from Guatemala City and, in particular, the urban middle class.

      Arzú began his presidency by announcing a 180-day crackdown on violent crime. Human rights groups, including the United Nations mission in Guatemala, stated that military, or former military, personnel were involved in many illegal activities, especially lucrative kidnappings.

      The president, backed by his military ally, Gen. Otto Pérez Molina, continued to negotiate with the left-wing guerrillas of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity to end the 35-year civil war, in which an estimated 100,000 people had died. On September 19 the efforts of both sides were rewarded with the signing of a military agreement halting all hostilities. It followed a cease-fire in March, a breakthrough agreement on social reform in May, and ratification of an international convention on the rights of indigenous peoples in June. On December 4 government and rebel leaders signed a pact calling for a permanent cease-fire to end Latin America's longest war.

      On October 16 more than 80 spectators were killed and about 150 injured in a stampede of fans trying to squeeze into a soccer match in Guatemala City. (See Disasters .) (BEN BOX)

      This article updates Guatemala, history of (Guatemala).

▪ 1996

      A republic of Central America, Guatemala has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 10,621,000. Cap.: Guatemala City. Monetary unit: quetzal, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 5.92 quetzales to U.S. $1 (9.36 quetzales = £ 1 sterling). President in 1995, Ramiro de León Carpio.

      Guatemalans went to the polls in November 1995 to vote for a new president. Alvaro Arzú, candidate of the conservative National Advancement Party and former mayor of Guatemala City, finished first with about 42% of the votes, nearly twice as many as his nearest rival, Alfonso Portillo of the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG). Because no candidate received a majority of the votes, a runoff between Arzú and Portillo was scheduled for Jan. 7, 1996. Economist Jorge Luis González del Valle, the candidate of a new left-wing coalition, the New Guatemala Democratic Front, finished a surprising fourth in the field of 19.

      As in 1990, retired general Efraín Ríos Montt's bid to be the candidate of the FRG was blocked by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal because his previous presidency, in 1982-83, had been achieved as a result of a military coup. The FRG had been victorious in the 1994 congressional elections, and in January 1995 Ríos Montt was named president of the Congress. Later in the year, however, the party's popularity plummeted, and several key members deserted it. In August the Supreme Court stripped Ríos Montt and three other FRG congressmen of their immunity from prosecution so that they could be tried on charges of wiretapping, document forgery, and usurpation of powers.

      Peace negotiations between the government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity failed to keep to the schedule agreed upon at the beginning of the year. The talks were affected by the elections and the perceived weakness of the government, combined with reluctance to pursue them on the part of the army and entrenched interests such as large landowners. The United Nations Mission for Guatemala reported that the lack of punishment continued to be the most serious obstacle to achieving respect for human rights in Guatemala and described specific cases of torture, illegal detention, extrajudicial killings, and obstruction of justice, based on the 570 human rights cases reported to it in the three months ended May 21.


      This updates the article Guatemala, history of (Guatemala).

▪ 1995

      A republic of Central America, Guatemala has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 10,322,000. Cap.: Guatemala City. Monetary unit: quetzal, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 5.76 quetzales to U.S. $1 (9.17 quetzales = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Ramiro de León Carpio.

      Frequent assassinations, bomb attacks, human rights abuses, land conflicts, labour disputes, and demonstrations marked 1994 as yet another violent year in Guatemala. The government of Pres. Ramiro de León Carpio faced one crisis after another and appeared increasingly impotent, although it moved forward on the political path to democracy.

      In January the government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity agreed to resume peace negotiations (broken off in May 1993) and to sign a peace accord by the end of the year. Several subsidiary accords were signed during 1994; one of them involved the resettlement of people displaced by the armed conflict. There was no cease-fire, however, and insurgent activity continued.

      Fewer than 20% of voters turned out for the January 30 referendum on constitutional change. Of those, 69% voted in favour of a new Congress and Supreme Court. Critics of the government pointed to the low turnout as evidence that the president had lost credibility, and there were rumours of coup attempts by the military. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal convened congressional elections for August 14. The number of deputies was reduced from 116 to 80, of which 64 were departmental and 16 nationwide. In another low turnout only 18.5% of the electorate cast valid votes, with high abstention rates in rural areas. The Guatemalan Republican Front, led by the fundamentalist evangelical former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, won 32 seats, and another right-wing party, the National Advancement Party, won 24. (For tabulated results, see Political Parties, above.) The new Congress was inaugurated on September 13.

      A massive police operation against alleged baby traffickers led to the discovery of several crib houses and arrests early in the year. In March a mob brutally beat a U.S. citizen, June Diane Weinstock, when it was rumoured that she had been trying to kidnap a child in San Cristóbal Verapaz. She was left unconscious and remained in a coma for weeks. There was speculation that the attack was instigated to destabilize the administration and thus justify greater military involvement in civilian policing. Another woman, Jennifer Harbury, who went on a 32-day hunger strike to force the government to release her husband, a leftist rebel who had been captured in 1992, faced legal action in November. The incidents had profound repercussions in the tourist industry, where cancellations caused lost revenue forecast at up to $100 million. (SARAH CAMERON)

      This updates the article Guatemala, history of (Guatemala).

▪ 1994

      A republic of Central America, Guatemala has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 9,713,000. Cap.: Guatemala City. Monetary unit: quetzal, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 5.83 quetzales to U.S. $1 (8.83 quetzales = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1993, Jorge Serrano Elías and, from June 6, Ramiro de León Carpio.

      Political, economic, and social policies pursued by the government of Pres. Jorge Serrano Elías had alienated nearly everybody by 1993, and the country was in disarray. The Christian Democrats and the National Centre Union withdrew their support in Congress, leaving the government without a majority. Amid growing unrest, on May 25 President Serrano suspended the constitution, dissolved Congress and the Supreme Court, and imposed press censorship.

      International and domestic condemnation for his self-coup was immediate. After only a few days, Serrano was ousted by a combination of military, business, and opposition leaders. Congress chose Ramiro de León Carpio, previously the human rights ombudsman and one of the officials arrested by former president Serrano, as successor.

      This spectacular choice led initially to great optimism, but it was short-lived. On July 3, while traveling in El Quiche with bodyguards, family, and friends, the president's cousin and ally, Jorge Carpio Nicolle, was shot dead, apparently in an attempt to destabilize the new government. The new ombudsman, Jorge García Laguardia, was himself threatened with death after calling into question the police investigation. On August 26 President de León requested the resignation of Congress, along with top members of the judiciary, to allow constitutional reforms designed to purge corruption. In an attempt to settle the issue, he scheduled a referendum for November 28, but the Supreme Court canceled it. It was later agreed that a referendum on reform proposals would be held at the end of January.

      On January 20, 2,400 refugees returned to Guatemala from Mexico. They were among some 45,000 people, largely Maya, who had been displaced in the country's 32-year civil war. Talks between the government and leftist guerrilla groups aimed at ending the war took place during the year but did not reach a settlement. The new government continued the economic policies of its predecessor, under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund. This caused disillusionment among the popular movements and opposition from the media. (SARAH CAMERON)

      This updates the article Guatemala, history of (Guatemala).

* * *

Guatemala, flag of   country of Central America. The dominance of an Indian culture within its interior uplands distinguishes Guatemala from its Central American neighbours. The origin of the name Guatemala is Indian, but its derivation and meaning are undetermined. Some hold that the original form was Quauhtemallan (indicating an Aztec rather than a Mayan origin), meaning “land of trees,” and others hold that it is derived from Guhatezmalha, meaning “mountain of vomiting water”— referring no doubt to such volcanic eruptions as the one that destroyed Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala (modern-day Antigua Guatemala), the first permanent Spanish capital of the region's captaincy general. The country's contemporary capital, Guatemala City, is a major metropolitan centre; Quetzaltenango in the western highlands is the nucleus of the Indian population.

      After gaining independence from Spain in the 1820s, Guatemala had a long history of government by authoritarian rule and military regimes until it came under democratic rule in 1985. Starting in 1954, Guatemala's governments faced formidable guerrilla opposition that sparked civil war that lasted for 36 years until peace accords were signed in 1996. The struggles of Guatemala's Indians during the war years were illuminated when Rigoberta Menchú (Menchú, Rigoberta), a Quiché Maya and an advocate for indigenous people throughout Latin America, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

      A slow political and economic recovery continued into the early 21st century. Elections have been held regularly since 1996, but, because there are many political parties, which tend to be small and short-lived, convergence on political solutions has been rare. Fear of a military return to power has preoccupied voters in the first years of the 21st century.

 Guatemala is bounded to the north and west by Mexico, to the northeast by Belize and (along a short coastline) by the Gulf of Honduras, to the east by Honduras, to the southeast by El Salvador, and to the south by the Pacific Ocean.

      The surface of Guatemala is characterized by four major topographical features. Southern Guatemala is dominated by a string of 27 volcanoes (volcano) extending for about 180 miles (300 km) between Mexico and El Salvador. Between the volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean lies a fertile plain ranging 25–30 miles (40–50 km) in width. The Petén region, a large, low-lying, rectangular area, juts northward to occupy a portion of the Yucatán Peninsula, a limestone platform shared with Mexico and Belize. Sandwiched between the volcanic landscape and the Petén are the high mountain ranges and valleys. These arc gently eastward from Mexico for a distance of 210 miles (340 km), extending into northern Honduras.

 The volcanic region of Guatemala consists of three elements: a row of volcanoes of geologically recent origin, flanked by a deeply eroded volcanic tableland of older origin to the north and the narrow coastal plain constructed of volcanic debris on the Pacific slope. The alignment of volcanic cones begins with the Tacaná Volcano (13,428 feet [4,093 metres]), located on the frontier with Mexico, and continues eastward across Guatemala into El Salvador. Among these are three continuously active volcanoes: the growing summit of Santiaguito (8,202 feet [2,500 metres]) located on the southern flanks of Santa María (12,375 feet [3,772 metres]); Fuego (12,582 feet [3,835 metres]); and Pacaya (8,371 feet [2,552 metres]). The highest peak is Tajumulco (Tajumulco Volcano) (13,845 feet [4,220 metres]). The city of Antigua Guatemala is precariously situated beneath three volcanoes: Agua Volcano (12,350 feet [3,760 metres]), Fuego Volcano (12,336 feet [3,763 metres]), and Acatenango Volcano (13,045 feet [3,976 metres]). Lava flow from Pacaya is sometimes visible from Guatemala City.

      From the base of the volcanic row, at an elevation of about 1,500 feet (450 metres), the Pacific coastal plain gradually slopes south to sea level at the shoreline of the ocean. The plain extends east-west for a distance of about 150 miles (240 km) and is one of the country's richest agricultural areas. Three-fourths of the population and most of the major cities are concentrated in the volcanic region and the Pacific slope, and the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes characteristic of this area have repeatedly taken a heavy toll of property and life.

      The rugged and deeply dissected volcanic highlands, which lie to the north of the volcanic row, average 9,000 feet (2,750 metres) in elevation near the Mexican border and decline gradually to 3,000 feet (900 metres) at the opposite border with El Salvador. Ash-filled basins and scenic lakes are scattered throughout this region.

      The sierras provide a major barrier between the heavily occupied volcanic landscape to the south and the sparsely populated Petén to the north. Sierra los Cuchumatanes to the west rises to elevations in excess of 10,000 feet (3,000 metres). Eastward, the lower sierras of Chamá, Santa Cruz, Chuacús, Las Minas, and the Montañas del Mico are separated by deep valleys that open eastward on a narrow Caribbean shoreline.

      The Petén, lying largely below 1,000 feet (300 metres) in elevation, exhibits a knobby or hilly surface characterized by subsurface drainage of water. The region is replete with scattered lakes, Lake Petén Itzá (Petén Itzá, Lake) being the largest. Extensive flooding takes place during the rainy season.

      The east-flowing Motagua River and west-flowing Cuilco pass in opposite directions through a structural trough that serves as the boundary between the volcanic terrain of southern Guatemala and the sierras of its midsection. The sierra region is drained by large rivers that flow primarily north into the Gulf of Mexico (Mexico, Gulf of) by way of the Usumacinta River. The 250-mile- (400-km-) long Motagua River is the longest of a series of rivers draining eastward toward the Caribbean. Several small rivers drain into the Pacific Ocean. Much of the Petén region is drained by the subsurface flow of water.

      The volcanic belt of southern Guatemala contains some of the most productive soils; nevertheless, the northernmost sector of this region is particularly subject to erosion induced by the prevalence of steep slopes and deforestation. Within the sierra region, heavier rainfall—combined with centuries of cultivation of the thinner soils on the steep slopes and the wanton destruction of forests—has led to widespread erosion there too. The limestone surface of the Petén produces shallow and stony soils that are difficult to farm.

      Located within the tropics and with elevations ranging between sea level and more than 13,000 feet (4,000 metres), Guatemala experiences a diversity of climates. Below 3,000 feet (900 metres) in elevation, average monthly temperatures range between 70 and 80 °F (21 and 27 °C) throughout the year; between 3,000 and 5,000 feet (900 and 1,500 metres), temperatures range between 60 and 70 °F (16 and 21 °C); and from 6,000 to 9,000 feet (1,500 to 2,700 metres), they range between 50 and 60 °F (10 and 16 °C). Above 9,000 feet, temperatures are marginal for crops, but the grazing of animals is possible.

      Near-desert conditions prevail in the middle section of the Motagua River valley, whereas precipitation in excess of 150 inches (3,800 mm) occurs at higher elevations of the Pacific-facing volcanic row and on the north- and east-facing slopes of the sierras. In general, a dry season prevails between November and April; however, moisture-laden trade winds (trade wind) from the Caribbean yield rainfall throughout the year on north- and east-facing slopes. An average of 40 to 80 inches (1,000 to 2,000 mm) of precipitation is received in southern and eastern Guatemala, but this is doubled in areas located nearer the Caribbean shoreline.

      Severe tropical storms, especially during the months of September and October, often deluge the country with damaging floods. Strong winds accompanying these storms, as well as winter invasions of cold air, occasionally place crops at risk. Hurricane Mitch, one of the deadliest tropical cyclones ever in the Atlantic Ocean, which brutally struck nearby Honduras and Nicaragua in October 1998, also caused extensive damage in Guatemala, displacing nearly 100,000 people.

Plant and animal life
      In the Petén, a dense rainforest (tropical rainforest) is interspersed with patches of savanna grasslands. The sierras are forested with oak and pine. In the volcanic highlands, stands of pine, fir, and oak have been largely destroyed except on the highest slopes. On the Pacific coastal plain, the landscape largely has been cleared of its tropical forest and savanna.

      The richest variety of animal life inhabits the lowland forest areas, although some species, such as deer, monkeys, peccaries, tapirs, ocelots, and jaguars, are increasingly rare. Among the reptiles of note are numerous snake species, crocodiles, and iguanas. The birdlife of the rainforests is particularly exuberant and includes the radiantly plumaged quetzal (Pharomachrus), the national bird, for which a reserve has been set aside in the sierras near Cobán.

People (Guatemala)

Ethnic groups
      On the basis of cultural traits, the population is divided into two main ethnic groups—Ladinos (Ladino) and Maya, who make up the vast majority of Indians (Central American and northern Andean Indian) in Guatemala and form several cultures. The Ladinos (Ladino) comprise those of mixed Hispanic-Maya origin. While the Maya account for slightly less than half of the country's total population, they make up about three-fourths of the population in the western highland provinces. There are also some Spanish-speaking Xinca in southern Guatemala and more than 15,000 Garifuna (people of mixed African and Caribbean descent; formerly called Black Caribs) in the northeastern port towns of Livingston and Puerto Barrios. Their ancestors came to the Central American coast from Caribbean islands in the 18th century. Ladinos are the more commercially and politically influential group, and they make up most of the urban population.

      Although all official transactions in Guatemala are conducted in Spanish, many documents—such as those related to the peace agreement of December 1996 that ended more than three decades of civil war in Guatemala—are translated into more than 20 Maya languages. The largest Maya groups are the Mam, who reside in the western regions of Guatemala; the Quiché, who occupy areas to the north and west of Lake Atitlán (Atitlán, Lake); the Cakchiquel, who extend from the eastern shores of Lake Atitlán to Guatemala City; and the Kekchí, who are concentrated in the sierras to the north and west of Lake Izabal (Izabal, Lake). Although many Maya are bilingual in Spanish, there has been a strong commitment in recent years to promote the various Maya languages for both daily use and literature. This is chiefly due to the rise of a sense of Maya ethnic identity among Guatemalans.

 While Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion of Guatemalans, among the Maya it is often heavily infused with beliefs of pre-Columbian origin. From the mid-20th century, however, there has been a surge of conversions to Evangelical Protestantism (which offers strong encouragement of self-improvement), particularly among the poor. Protestants account for about one-fourth of the population, one of the highest proportions in Latin America. The most important Roman Catholic shrine in Central America is the Black Christ of Esquipulas (named for the dark wood from which it is carved), located in eastern Guatemala.

Settlement patterns
      Approximately three-fifths of the population of Guatemala is concentrated within the volcanic uplands and adjacent Pacific coastal plain to the south and west of Guatemala City. A little more than one-tenth live to the east and south, while even fewer reside within the Petén region. The remaining populace resides in the region of the sierras. Of the urban dwellers who make up some two-fifths of the population, nearly half inhabit the metropolitan area of Guatemala City.

 Quetzaltenango, the country's fourth most populous city and the most important city of the western highlands, is the nucleus of a large Quiché-speaking Maya population. Numbering approximately one million, the Quichés are the largest of the 20-some groups of Maya. A line of cities follows along at the juncture between the upper Pacific coastal plain and the line of volcanoes. The largest of these are Retalhuleu, Mazatenango, and Escuintla. Zacapa in the east, Cobán in the north, and Huehuetenango (the heartland of the Mam Maya) in the west are the major urban centres in the sierras. San José Port is an important Pacific port, and Santo Tomás de Castilla Port on the Caribbean is Guatemala's busiest port, handling chiefly general cargo and serving as the headquarters of the Guatemalan navy.

Demographic trends
      Guatemala has a relatively high rate of annual population growth. The birth, death, infant mortality, and fertility rates are among the highest in Central America, and life expectancy is low. Thousands of the rural poor in search of a livelihood migrate (human migration) seasonally to the Pacific coastal plain to harvest crops or to the major urban centres.

      During the civil war, many refugees (refugee) fled to sparsely populated areas in the Petén region to the north. In the early 21st century, some 250,000 Guatemalans were still internally displaced. Others fled to Mexico, where more than 100 refugee camps existed in the 1980s, and to the United States and Belize. Many of these refugees returned home with the help of a United Nations refugee commission, which functioned until 2004; however, the number of Guatemalans emigrating continued to rise into the 21st century.

      Guatemala is a less-developed country largely dependent upon traditional commercial crops such as coffee, sugar, and bananas as the basis of its market economy. Vigorous economic growth during the 1960s and '70s was followed, as in most of Latin America, by national indebtedness and low or negative economic growth rates in the 1980s. While the return of nominal civilian control in the late 1980s helped to improve foreign investment, tourism, and the economy in general, negative trade balances and foreign indebtedness continued to hamper the economy. The government has attempted to revitalize the economy by fostering the diversification and expansion of nontraditional exports such as cut flowers and snow peas, and free trade zones and assembly plants have been established to encourage the expansion and decentralization of manufacturing. By the beginning of the 21st century, more than half of the citizenry lived below the poverty line. Remittances from Guatemalans living abroad accounted for a larger source of foreign income than exports and tourism combined.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Although agriculture provides employment for about two-fifths of the workforce, it contributes less than one-fourth of the gross national product (GNP). Traditional peasant agriculture, focused upon the production of corn (maize), beans, and squash for domestic consumption, is concentrated on small farms or milpas (temporary forest clearings) in the highlands, but production of these staples has lagged behind population growth. In contrast, commercial plantation agriculture, emphasizing the production of coffee, cotton, sugarcane, bananas, and cattle for foreign markets, is restricted to large estates on the Pacific piedmont and coastal plain and in the lower Motagua valley.

      The agricultural resources of Guatemala are rich. Although rugged landscapes prevail in much of the volcanic region, numerous highland basins and the Pacific piedmont and coastal plain provide productive soils for agriculture. Within the sierras, the lower Motagua valley offers excellent soils. The wide range of climates allows for a diversity of crops. The efficient exploitation of soils is primarily limited by the inequitable distribution of land (large landowners not being required to maximize land use) and by the inability to provide the agricultural sector with adequate financial support—i.e., funding of small farms.

      Guatemala has developed into a major world supplier of cardamom. Increasingly, peasants who have long produced grains and beans and tended sheep are turning to the production of nontraditional commodities—fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants—destined for export and for rapidly growing urban markets within the country. Nontraditional exports have continued to grow in the 21st century, but evidence suggests that this trend may be short-lived. Following the end of the civil war in 1996, many small farmers returning to Guatemala discovered that organic products such as coffee, cacao (the source of cocoa beans), and spices command higher prices as export items than traditional agricultural products.

      Both forest and fishing resources have considerable potential. Forest products are derived primarily from the tropical forests of the Petén and the coniferous forests of the highlands. Limited accessibility, however, hinders the exploitation of forest resources. Lumber, primarily pine, is exported in small volume and used domestically in construction and the crafting of furniture. But the most important use of timber is for fuel, with the overwhelming majority of it going to that purpose. Commercial fishing in the Pacific has developed and includes a catch of crustaceans, especially shrimp, and such fish as tuna, snapper, and mackerel; most of the catch is exported.

Resources and power
 Many have long believed that Guatemala lacks the traditional mineral resources (coal, iron, and other metals) to establish an industrial economy. Nevertheless, the extraction of petroleum in the Petén since the early 1980s has alleviated some of Guatemala's power needs and provided additional exports, though the reserves in that region are becoming increasingly depleted. At the beginning of the 21st century, Guatemala had proven deposits of a number of minerals, including nickel, which had once been an export product, but mining in the country was focused on antimony, iron ore, lead, and gold. An increasing number of open-pit mines to extract gold and silver deposits have been established in the western and northeastern regions of the country. The creation of these mines has sparked criticism and protests from neighbouring indigenous communities and international human rights groups, in some cases necessitating military intervention.

      The primary sources of energy are petroleum, hydroelectricity, and fuelwood. Fossil fuels and hydroelectricity both contribute substantially to the country's electricity requirements. Throughout the more densely populated regions, wooded areas provide firewood and charcoal for cooking, heating, the firing of ceramic ware, and the production of lime. In 1996 Guatemala became part of the System of Electric Interconnection for Central America (Sistema de Interconexion Electrica para America Central; SIEPAC), which connects the region's power-transmission grids, allowing electricity to be traded between the participating countries. The next year Guatemala began privatizing much of its energy sector.

      Manufacturing grew rapidly between 1960 and 1980 but expanded more slowly thereafter. Guatemala lost markets to Asian manufacturers, particularly in the garment industry. Food processing and beverage production, the processing of tobacco and sugar, publishing, the manufacture of textiles, clothing, cement, tires, construction materials, and pharmaceuticals, and the refining of petroleum are primary industrial activities. Like other Central American countries, Guatemala has encouraged the establishment of maquiladoras (maquiladora), manufacturing plants that primarily assemble garments for export. Most of the workers in these plants are women. Industrial activity is heavily concentrated in the environs of Guatemala City.

      The government-controlled Bank of Guatemala is the note-issuing authority and oversees the country's banking system. It also handles all international accounts. A number of other public and private banks are in operation, and a stock exchange was established in Guatemala City in 1987. Guatemala's monetary unit is the quetzal. In 2001 the U.S. dollar was adopted as legal tender along with the quetzal.

      The United States is Guatemala's primary trading partner in both imports and exports. Other trading partners include El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. In 1960 Guatemala joined in the founding of the Central American Common Market (CACM), which fostered trade between Central American countries but was only moderately successful in stimulating intra-isthmian trade. CACM suspended its activities in the mid-1980s but renewed its efforts in the 1990s. By 1993 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua had ratified a new Central American Free Trade Zone (later signed by Costa Rica) to reduce intraregional trade tariffs gradually over a period of several years, though implementation was subsequently delayed until the realization of SIEPAC in 1996.

      In 2004 Guatemala ratified a new Central America Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Implementation of the agreement divided Guatemalans: peasant, labour, and indigenous groups staunchly opposed it, while businesses and the government believed it would attract more foreign investment and promote economic growth.

      Imports include mineral fuels, electrical machinery, transport equipment, pharmaceutical and other chemical products, textiles, and food. The major exports are chemical products and coffee, followed by sugar, bananas, crude petroleum, and cardamom. The exports of vegetables, fresh fruits, cut flowers, and seafoods are of increasing importance.

 The growing service sector is the largest contributor to Guatemala's GNP. Increasing emphasis is being placed upon tourism as a source of income and employment. Noteworthy archaeological ruins are located at Tikal in the Petén, Zacaleu on the outskirts of Huehuetenango, and Quiriguá in the lower Motagua valley. Flores, located on an island in Lake Petén Itzá (Petén Itzá, Lake), is the point of departure for visits to Tikal National Park, which was designated a World Heritage site in 1979. Antigua Guatemala (also made a World Heritage site in 1979), the old colonial capital, has a wealth of ruins and “earthquake baroque” architecture. It has been revived as a tourist and cultural centre with a thriving industry of language schools, museums, bookstores, craft shops, and facilities for visitors. Volcanic landscapes and mountain valleys provide incomparable settings for villages occupied by colourfully attired Indians. Of particular renown is the marketplace in the town of Chichicastenango. The Caribbean coast, where the surf is gentler than on Guatemala's Pacific shore, is popular with tourists interested in water sports, and Playa de Escobar, near the port of Puerto Barrios, is a favourite destination.

Labour and taxation
      Nearly two-fifths of Guatemala's labour force is engaged in agriculture, with roughly the same proportion employed in the service sector and about one-fifth working in manufacturing and construction. More women entered the labour force in the 1990s, particularly women from poor households. The high rate of urbanization was one of the factors that led to the increase. Although the number of women in the labour force increased by one-fifth by the end of the 20th century, women still constituted less than one-fourth of the official workforce (this figure does not include unreported activities such as subsistence farming and domestic work).

      Labour unions and student and peasant organizations made significant progress in the 1944–54 period, but these gains were largely lost in the subsequent period of rigorous military control. Labour union members have been harassed, intimidated, and killed in significant numbers since 1954. Their situation has slowly improved since the 1990s, but many cases of continued abuse have been documented in the early years of the 21st century.

      The government continues to rely primarily upon revenue from customs duties. Other tax sources, such as sales taxes, personal income taxes, and excises on liquor and tobacco supplement customs receipts.

Transportation and telecommunications
      A network of highways, concentrated in the southern portion of the country, is the major means of transport. The railroad from central Guatemala to the Caribbean ports used to carry more bananas than people, but it has largely been replaced by truck transport for freight and by bus for passengers. Commercial domestic flights within the country are basically limited to those between Guatemala City and the Petén.

      Two primary highways extend east-west across Guatemala. The Inter-American Highway, part of the Pan-American Highway, lies to the north of the southern chain of volcanoes. A Pacific coast highway lies to the south. These routes are linked by a number of roads that pass through the chain. The Pacific coastal plain is served by a number of paved highways that extend south from the primary coast highway. The primary north-south highway extends from San José on the Pacific to Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic, by way of Guatemala City. By far a greater number of passengers are carried by bus rather than by private automobiles.

      The primary Pacific coast highway and the north-south interoceanic highway are paralleled by the nationally owned railroad. At Zacapa a rail line branches southeast to El Salvador.

      Most of the foreign trade is handled through the Caribbean port of Santo Tomás de Castilla. Pacific port facilities (Puerto Quetzal) are in operation at San José.

      La Aurora International Airport, located on the southern outskirts of Guatemala City, serves points throughout the Western Hemisphere and Europe. The privately operated national airline is Aviateca.

      Guatemala is Central America's largest telecommunications market. Because of the country's inadequate fixed-line infrastructure, especially in rural areas, mobile phones have been the fastest growing sector. The telecommunications industry was liberalized in 1996.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
 The constitution adopted in 1986 defines the country as a sovereign democratic republic and divides power among three governmental branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. Legislative power is delegated to a unicameral Congress, whose members are elected to five-year terms through direct, popular suffrage. Executive power is vested in the president, who is both the head of government and the head of state, and the vice president, both of whom are also elected to five-year terms by popular vote.

Local government
      Guatemala is divided into departamentos (departments), each headed by a governor appointed by the president. The departments in turn are divided into municipios (municipalities), which are governed by councils presided over by mayors, elected directly by popular ballot.

      The Supreme Court, with at least nine justices, has jurisdiction over all the tribunals of the country. The justices are elected by Congress for terms of four years.

Political process
      All citizens over age 18 are obliged to register to vote and to participate in elections, however compulsory voting is not enforced and there are no sanctions in Guatemala. Broad guarantees are provided for the organization and functioning of political parties, except for the Communist Party and any other that is deemed to be dedicated to the overthrow of the democratic process. Only authorized political parties may nominate candidates for president, vice president, and Congress. Candidates for mayor and other municipal offices need not be nominated by political parties.

      Following the Peace Accords of 1996, various guerrilla groups agreed to lay down their arms and enter the political process. Women also began to increasingly participate in government-sponsored programs. Organized women's groups began to emerge, and the recognition of women as a driving political force in Guatemalan society owed much to the support of international organizations. Women's roles in documenting the disappearance and killing of citizens during and after the civil war tended to strengthen their collective voice. Moreover, women who had spent time in refugee camps during Guatemala's violent periods often returned home with a greater sense of empowerment and self-esteem; many became literate and had the opportunity to share their skills and experiences with other Guatemalan women who had not been in exile. Finally, another likely influence on the emergence of women as a political force was the prominence of Indian-rights activist and Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú (Menchú, Rigoberta).

      There is a constant flux in the formation and demise of political parties. Those displaying the most continuity are the Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario; PR), which has shifted from left to right in political orientation, the centrist Guatemalan Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democracia Cristiana Guatemalteca; PDCG), and the right-wing National Liberation Movement (Movimiento de Liberación Nacional; MLN). In the slightly more open political atmosphere of the 1990s, several new parties emerged as contenders: the National Center Union (Unión Central Nacional; UCN), the Solidarity Action Movement (Movimiento de Acción Solidaria; MAS), the neoliberal National Advancement Party (Partido de Avanzada Nacional; PAN), and the National Alliance (Alianza National; AN). Notable parties that formed in the early 21st century include the National Union for Hope (Unión Nacional de Esperanza; UNE), the Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota; PP), the Grand National Alliance (Gran Alianza Nacional; GANA), and the Centre of Social Action (Centro de Acción Social; CASA), which represents the interests of indigenous people. Generally, Guatemalan voters still appear to have little faith in government because of its poor record in improving security and its inability to stop violent crime.

      Guatemala has an army, navy (including marines), and air force. Male citizens between ages 18 and 50 are liable for conscription, with the military service obligation varying from 12 to 24 months. Although constitutionally outside of politics, the army nevertheless represents a powerful element in political struggles and has often controlled the government.

Health and welfare
      The inadequacy of Guatemalan medical and health services, particularly in rural areas, is reflected in the high rates of intestinal diseases and infant mortality. Inadequate sanitation and malnutrition are contributory factors. In larger communities the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance maintains hospitals that provide free care, and there are also numerous private hospitals. During the 1980s, rural health centres staffed by personnel trained in preventive medicine were established in hundreds of localities in an effort to improve the health of rural inhabitants. Though these centres have shown slow but continued improvement in the quality of care, the majority of rural dwellers still lack access to medical services, and about half of them have an inadequate diet.

      Since 1946 the Guatemalan Social Security Institute has provided medical insurance for public and private employees. The benefits cover accidents and common illness, as well as maternity care. The institute also maintains several hospitals.

      Rural settlements tend to radiate around the cabeceras (county seats) of the hundreds of municipios (municipio) (municipalities) into which the country is divided. The living conditions in the vast majority of these settlements contrast sharply with the modern amenities of Guatemala City. Running water and up-to-date sanitary facilities are lacking in most homes. Dwellings tend to be made of adobe, cane, or planks and be roofed with thatch, tiles, shakes, or corrugated metal. Homes commonly have earthen floors.

      In theory, education is free, secular, and compulsory through the primary school. Secondary schools train teachers, agricultural experts, industrial technicians, and candidates for universities. An enrollment of about two-thirds of those eligible to attend primary schools declines to less than one-fifth for secondary schools. The adult literacy rate (slightly less than three-fourths) is one of the lowest in Central America. In rural areas, even many of those who have attended primary schools (usually only to the third grade) are functionally illiterate as adults. Impoverishment and a low premium paid upon education contribute to these low literacy levels.

      Guatemala's universities are concentrated in the capital. The largest is the national University of San Carlos, founded in 1676. Other universities of Guatemala include Del Valle (1966), Francisco Marroquín (1971), Galileo (2000), Mariano Gálvez (1966), and Rafael Landívar (1961). There are also specialized schools in art and music.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
 Guatemalan society is marked by pronounced extremes in the conduct of daily life. In Guatemala City, elite families live much as they do in the cosmopolitan centres of developed countries, communicating by e-mail, cell phones, and beepers. On the other hand, within an hour's drive of the capital are indigenous people whose patterns of daily life reflect those of past centuries and whose communities continue to be knit together by market life. Sharp contrasts like these pervade Guatemalan culture, whether it be in the language spoken or in matters pertaining to the household, cuisine, attire, or family affairs.

Daily life and social customs
      Guatemalans are increasingly exposed to the intrusion of foreign influences upon their way of life. All aspects of communication—periodical news, the comics, soap operas, film—are primarily of foreign origin. A multitude of products, from soaps and boxed cereals and bottled drinks to automobiles, bear foreign brand names. Nevertheless, in local Mayan villages, colourful native attire is still common and varies according to the village and language group.

      Heavily attended fairs and religious festivals are scheduled in every part of Guatemala throughout the year. Semana Santa (Holy Week), at Easter, is marked by festivals throughout the country, but many Guatemalans travel to Antigua Guatemala to attend services at its great Baroque cathedral. Guatemala's national day of independence from Spain, September 15, is also celebrated across the country with fireworks, dances, parades, football (soccer) matches, and cockfights. At these festivals, indigenous crafts are sold, including the embroidered huipils (smocks) worn by Maya women. Guatemalans celebrate All Saints' Day on November 1 with unique traditions: giant kites are flown in the cemeteries near Antigua Guatemala, and many Guatemalans feast on a traditional food known as fiambre, a salad made from cold cuts, fish, and vegetables. The town of Todos Santos Cuchumatán holds horse races and traditional dancing on this day. Guatemala City celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15. Weekly market days in Indian villages are important social gatherings; one of the best known is the market in Chichicastenango.

      The basic food of the Maya consisted of corn, beans, squash, and, depending on the region, cassava (manioc), papaya, and plantains. Fishing and hunting also added to their diet. The beans of the cacao plant provided a cocoa drink that was primarily limited to the nobility. Modern-day Guatemalan cuisine is a mixture of Spanish and local dishes. These include appetizers such as tamales de elote (corn cakes) and turkey soup; drinks made with rum, lime juice, and sugarcane and horchata (cold milk mixed with rice, cocoa, and cinnamon); and entrées such as chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), rellenitos de plátano (mashed plantain with black beans), salpicón (chopped beef salad with cilantro and onions), arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), and Mayan chicken fricassee (chicken cooked in a pumpkin and sesame seed sauce with chopped almonds). Desserts include pompan (candied sweet papaya) and flan.

The arts
      The evidence of Maya culture pervades the country. Today, although native crafts involve a variety of forms of expression, they are best represented in colourful handwoven textiles and costumes, unique to each community. Traditional dances, music, and religious rites that have survived in the more rural regions are important tourist attractions. The art of the colonial period is chiefly represented in the architecture and decor of Roman Catholic churches.

      For the most part, the recognition of modern painters, composers, and authors tends to be limited. A major exception is the writer Miguel Ángel Asturias (Asturias, Miguel Ángel) (1899–1974), a poet and novelist who won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1966 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967. Despite his 10-year residence in Paris (1923–33), his work is strongly rooted in Guatemalan history, such as his 1946 novel El señor presidente, a powerful attack on Guatemala's military dictatorship. As with Asturias's writings, expressions of the various art forms in Guatemala tend to focus on Maya heritage. From antiquity is the epic Popol Vuh, a historical chronicle of the Quiché people. Originally written in hieroglyphics, the story was translated into Spanish in the 16th century and is viewed as one of the most important documents of the pre-Columbian Americas. Indian-rights activist Rigoberta Menchú (Menchú, Rigoberta) is also internationally renowned for her poetry and short fiction, but more so for her memoir I, Rigoberta Menchú, first published in 1983 and since translated into many languages. Carlos Mérida (Mérida, Carlos) (1891–1984), a contemporary and colleague of the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (Rivera, Diego), is the best-known Guatemalan painter. The painter and printmaker Alfred Jensen (1903–81), of Danish, Polish, and German descent, was born in Guatemala but settled in the United States in 1934.

Cultural institutions
      Most of the more highly recognized centres of cultural activity are concentrated within Guatemala City. These include the National Theatre, the Conservatory of Music, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts, the Ixchel Museum of Indian Attire, a museum of natural history, and the National Museums of Archaeology and Ethnology and of Arts and Popular Crafts. The National Archives have a rich collection of materials on colonial Central America and on the Central American republics except for Panama. The Society of Geography and History ranks as one of the oldest and most highly respected learned societies in Guatemala. Visitors are attracted not only to the variety of museums but also to the Palace of the Captain's General, the Casa Popenoe (a restored colonial mansion), and numerous convents and churches.

      In recent years a number of foreign universities have established programs in Antigua Guatemala, and many language institutes also have taken up residence there, resulting in scholarly conventions, bookstores, book fairs, and greater cultural activity. Since 1978 the Center for Mesoamerican Research, which is headquartered in Antigua Guatemala, has sponsored interdisciplinary research on Central America.

Sports and recreation
      Football (soccer) is Guatemala's most popular sport. The national team competes internationally, and Guatemalan players figure prominently in clubs in other national leagues, especially those of Mexico and Uruguay.

      In 1950 Guatemala hosted the Central American and Caribbean Games, a quadrennial competition organized in 1924 in which Guatemalan athletes have participated since the games were first held in 1926. The country also competes in the quadrennial Pan American Games and participated in its first Olympic Summer Games in 1952 in Helsinki.

      Outdoor sports are main recreational activities. The most popular are white-water rafting near Acatenango Volcano, kayaking on inland Lake Atitlán and along the Pacific coast, spelunking in the limestone labyrinths of the Petén plateau, and volcano climbing and mountain biking in the sierras above Antigua Guatemala. Snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and surfing are also popular recreations among visitors to the Caribbean coast. In larger communities throughout the country, recreational parks draw crowds on weekends.

Media and publishing
      Major newspapers and publishing houses, as well as radio and television stations, are located within the capital. Among the most widely circulated newspapers are La Prensa Libre (“The Free Press”), El Gráfico (“The Graphic”), La Hora (“The Hour”), and Siglo Veintiuno (“21st Century”). Siglo News is an English-language newspaper, a companion to Siglo Veintiuno. Diario de Centroamérica (“Central America Daily”) is published by the government. Radio and television have assumed a major role in reaching large numbers who are illiterate or who reside in remote areas of the country. All means of communication are ostensibly free of government censorship. Censorship has been imposed in times of crisis, however, and intimidation and threats of physical harm have often hindered the free expression of thought.

Charles L. Stansifer Oscar H. Horst


Precolonial period
      The ancient Maya were one of the most highly developed peoples of precolonial America, boasting a sophisticated calendar, astronomic observatories, and construction skills. During the Classic Period dating from AD 300 to 900, the Maya built the majority of their cities. The causes of the sudden abandonment of many Mayan cities starting about AD 850 are still being debated, but a combination of soil exhaustion, climate change, and armed conflict may have contributed to the cities' decline. When Spanish conquerors arrived in the 16th century, they found many cities in ruins and encountered little organized resistance. Still, isolated bands of Maya-speaking peoples avoided Spanish control for many years in the colonial period.

The colonial period (colonialism, Western)
      Under the Spanish, a capital was reestablished at the nearby location of present-day Antigua Guatemala. The capital achieved a certain magnificence, and the other major towns acquired some aspects of Spanish culture, but the outlying areas were only lightly affected. When the capital was razed by a series of earthquakes in 1773, it was moved by royal order to the present site of Guatemala City.

      Compared with colonial Mexico or Peru, both of which had large deposits of precious metals, colonial Guatemala developed no great degree of economic prosperity. The cultivation for export of agricultural staples, principally cacao (the source of cocoa beans) and indigo, by Indian or African slave labour was the major economic activity, exclusive of production for subsistence. Toward the end of the colonial period, the production of cochineal, a red dye derived from the bodies of insects, competed with the other agricultural exports. Industrial products from England, despite the efforts of Spanish authorities to exclude them, came to Guatemala via the Caribbean and Belize. Commerce, however, was never extensive; a satisfactory port was never developed, internal transportation was difficult, and pirates harassed the coasts and preyed on shipping. The importance of Guatemala City lay in the fact that it was the administrative and religious centre of the entire region between Mexico and Panama, being the headquarters of the captain general, the high court (Audiencia), and the archbishop. The modern states of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Chiapas, Mexico, were provinces under Guatemala's jurisdiction in colonial times.

The postcolonial period
      Following independence from Spain (1821) and Mexico (1823), Guatemala was the political centre of the United Provinces of Central America. The principal factor in the collapse of the federation was the backcountry uprising in Guatemala led by Rafael Carrera (Carrera, Rafael), who established himself as the military arbiter of the state (1838) and, from the executive's chair or from behind it, controlled policy until his death in 1865. Elections were dispensed with in 1854, when the presidency was conferred upon him for life.

      Carrera, who enjoyed support from Indians as well as from conservative estate owners, returned Guatemala to a regime similar to that of the colonial period. He restored the church to its position of privilege and power and catered to the aristocracy. Carrera followed a nationalistic policy, and in March 1847 he formally declared Guatemala an independent and sovereign nation. In 1859 he failed to get Britain to follow through on a treaty defining the status and boundaries of British Honduras, an issue that remained unsettled even after British Honduras became independent as Belize.

      In 1871 a revolution headed by Miguel García Granados and Justo Rufino Barrios (Barrios, Justo Rufino) overthrew Gen. Vicente Cerna, Carrera's conservative successor in office, and inaugurated a period of liberal ascendancy that extended almost unbroken to 1944. After a brief period in the presidency, García Granados ceded to Barrios (1873), who became known as the Reformer because of the sweeping changes he introduced.

      With the approval of the assembly, Barrios broke the power of the local aristocracy; brought the church under civil control and confiscated its properties; instituted lay education; promulgated a new constitution (1876); fostered the construction of roads, railways, and telegraph lines; encouraged development by private initiative of Guatemala's resources; and opened the country to foreign capital. His government promoted the cultivation of coffee to replace the dye products, which were now being produced artificially in Europe, and enacted legislation that assured producers of a ready supply of labour. By the end of his administration, coffee was the number one export of Guatemala. Barrios also took steps to professionalize the Guatemala military. He was an ardent exponent of a Central American union, and, when political means failed to produce results, he invaded El Salvador in order to force it to join the union. However, he was killed at the Battle of Chalchuapa (1885), and the movement collapsed.

      After the death of Barrios, Manuel Lisandro Barillas occupied the presidency. He was succeeded by José María Reina Barrios, a nephew of “the Reformer,” who was elected in 1892 and assassinated in 1898. Manuel Estrada Cabrera (Estrada Cabrera, Manuel) then became provisional president, regularized his status by an election, and by repeated reelections maintained himself in power until leaders of the opposition Unionist Party forced him from office by having the assembly declare him insane (1920). During his long tenure, Estrada Cabrera fostered economic development and progress along the lines established by Barrios. He encouraged improvements in agriculture, made concessions to the United Fruit Company (owned by U.S. businessmen), continued to build roads, and supported railroad construction, seeing completion of the railroad to the Atlantic. Health conditions were improved, and education was stimulated. Estrada Cabrera persecuted political opponents, disregarded individual rights, muzzled the press, and summarily disposed of his enemies.

      After the fall of Estrada Cabrera, the presidency was held by a series of short-term rulers who continued to rule in behalf of the coffee elite. Following a military coup in 1931, Gen. Jorge Ubico (Ubico (Castañeda), Jorge) was elected president without opposition and began the fourth of Guatemala's extended dictatorships.

Guatemala from 1931 to 1954
      Ubico stressed economic development and, in particular, the improvement and diversification of agriculture and the construction of roads. He balanced the national budget and transformed a deficit into a surplus. His paternalistic policies toward the Indians established him as their patron, although his vagrancy law (1934) made workers, especially Indians, liable to periods of forced labour at critical seasons. During his motorcycle tours of the country or in his office, he listened to their complaints and dispensed immediate “justice.” This relationship deluded Ubico (called Tata, “Father”) into stating that Guatemala no longer had an Indian (Central American and northern Andean Indian) problem.

      Ubico's administration dramatized the degree to which liberal thought had lost its idealism and was concerned principally with material progress. The new socioeconomic groups found no stimulation and no hope in the dreary materialism and military repression that had come to characterize liberal regimes, and these potential sources of opposition were brought together by the increasing disregard shown for individual rights and liberties. The discontent was increased by economic dislocation during World War II. In December 1941, with pressure and promises of economic aid from the United States, Ubico's government declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy.

      In June 1944 a general strike forced Ubico to resign, leaving the government in the hands of a military junta which favoured change. Labour was allowed to organize, political parties were formed, and a presidential electoral campaign was begun, in which Juan José Arévalo (Arévalo (Bermejo), Juan José) soon emerged as the most popular candidate. Gen. Federico Ponce Vaides, head of the interim government, was deposed on Oct. 20, 1944, by a popular uprising, and a revolutionary junta presided over the drafting of a new constitution and the electoral campaign, which was won by Arévalo. The Arévalo administration attempted to consolidate the social revolution implicit in the October uprising. A favourable labour code was enacted, and a social security system that promised progressive extension of benefits was inaugurated. Following the example of Mexico and its Indigenista ( Indigenismo) movement, Arévalo took additional steps to support Guatemalan Indians, which included encouraging indigenous leaders to organize in campesino leagues to defend their interests. Arévalo also pressed the Belize border issue with Britain, subjected foreign enterprises to regulation, and attempted to guarantee Guatemalan labourers larger benefits. Thus, the Arévalo regime transferred political power from the military to a popular group, of which organized labour was the most important element.

      Lack of leadership from the rank and file allowed Guatemalan communists (communism) to organize the labour movement and use it for their own ends. Arévalo was not friendly to their activities, but his nationalistic bent gave them opportunity to establish themselves as his most enthusiastic and reliable supporters.

      Jacobo Arbenz (Arbenz (Guzmán), Jacobo), a military officer who received communist support, was elected to succeed Arévalo and assumed office in March 1951. Arbenz made agrarian reform the central project of his administration, signaling a turn to the political left. The National Congress passed a measure providing for the expropriation of unused portions of landholdings in excess of a specified acreage and for the distribution of the land among landless peasants.

      The land reform, which had a heavy impact upon the U.S.-owned United Fruit Company (Chiquita Brands International, Inc.), and the growth of communist influence became the most troublesome issues of the Arbenz regime. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began efforts to destabilize the regime and recruited a force of Guatemalan exiles in Honduras, which was led by the exiled Col. Carlos Castillo Armas. When the invasion began in June 1954, Arbenz was forced to resign.

Civil war years
      Castillo Armas emerged from the resulting military junta as provisional president, and a plebiscite made his status official. He extirpated communist influence, quashed agrarian reform, and broke labour and peasant unions with considerable violence, but he himself was brought down by an assassin's bullet in July 1957. For the next nine years military men ruled with scant respect for the Congress or elections. During these regimes, the thwarting of social reforms promised by the revolution of 1944 made restive elements of the population increasingly receptive to guerrilla resistance. Fidel Castro (Castro, Fidel)'s victory over a military government in Cuba in 1959 also inspired the Guatemalan rebels, leading to a vicious cycle of violence and repression particularly in the countryside that would last for the next 36 years.

      Prospects for a return to civilian rule appeared promising in early 1966. An orderly election on March 6, 1966, gave Julio César Méndez Montenegro, a law professor and the candidate of the moderate Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario; PR), an unexpectedly large plurality of votes over the candidate of the military regime, though not the absolute majority required for election. Congress elected him, but the understanding with the military officers that had to be reached before a civilian government could take office undermined his authority. Hopes for reform, therefore, were largely frustrated, and the energies of the administration were consumed in attempts to control the increasing violence and terrorism. Military and paramilitary operations such as those conducted by Col. Carlos Arana Osorio substantially eliminated the rural guerrillas (guerrilla), but urban guerrilla and terrorist activity worsened.

      Arana Osorio, the “law-and-order” candidate, won the election of 1970 and immediately restored military control. His major activity was “pacification” of the country by the extermination of “habitual criminals” and leftist guerrillas. Assassination of opposition leaders of the democratic left by so-called death squads, often linked to the military and the police, gave rise to the conviction that Arana was attempting to eliminate all opponents, whether left, right, or centre. With dissent eliminated or hushed, the country experienced a period of relative quiet. As the election of 1974 approached, optimists could find some reason to hope that a new basis had been laid for reform. The coalition of opposition parties chose Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, a leading officer of the progressive wing of the military forces, to contend with Gen. Kjell Laugerud García (Laugerud García, Kjell Eugenio), a nonpolitical military officer representing the coalition of rightist parties.

      When returns showed Ríos Montt winning an absolute majority, the government abruptly suspended election reports, brazenly manipulated the results, and finally announced that Laugerud García had won a plurality of votes. The government-controlled National Congress promptly elected him. Deprived of moral force, Laugerud García took office as the protégé of Arana. He faced problems of inflation, a series of volcanic eruptions, and division and consequent weakening of his main political support, the right-wing National Liberation Movement. He met a renewal of leftist violence and terror with the same repressive measures that Arana had applied. In 1977 the United States, under Pres. Jimmy Carter, cut off military assistance to Guatemala because of its violation of human rights.

      The pattern of electoral manipulation set in 1974 persisted in subsequent elections. Gen. Romeo Lucas García (Lucas García, Fernando Romeo), declared the winner in 1978 after another suspect count, presided over a regime that essentially continued that of Laugerud. Both administrations confronted the country's problems with resources greatly reduced from the devastating earthquake of February 1976, which left more than 20,000 people dead and 1,000,000 homeless.

      A major factor in both administrations was the discovery of oil (petroleum) in northern Guatemala. Because the deposit was thought to extend across Belize (formerly British Honduras until 1973) to the continental shelf, resolution of persistent, conflicting boundary and territorial claims was sought. On March 11, 1981, Guatemala, Great Britain (British Empire), and Belize reached preliminary agreement, but a final settlement was not reached, and in September 1981 Great Britain granted independence to Belize over Guatemala's protest. The discovery of oil was also thought by some to be behind government violence in the largely Indian-populated regions of the north. The devastation that occurred there drove thousands of Indians into Mexico (human migration), suggesting that the administration might be clearing lands for others to appropriate. As a result, Indians moved in unprecedented numbers into the guerrilla movements.

      In the elections of March 1982, the government coalition candidate was declared the winner. On March 23, however, young army officers seized the government and installed a junta headed by General Ríos Montt, who had been denied the presidency in 1974.

      Ríos Montt dissolved the junta and pledged to rout corruption, disband the notorious death squads, and end the guerrilla war. The new leader failed to follow through on his promises, however, and conditions in Guatemala worsened. Ríos Montt's economic policies were not effective, and the political violence that he had promised to end was soon renewed with even greater intensity, again forcing many peasants to flee into Mexico and driving others into guerrilla camps, thus fueling the insurgency. A Protestant in a largely Roman Catholic country, Ríos Montt never gained wide political support.

      In August 1983 Ríos Montt was overthrown by Gen. Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores, who promised a quick return to the democratic process. Violence continued in the countryside, however, and the United States, seeking human rights improvements, restricted economic aid to the new regime. Military aid had been curtailed since 1977. Elections for a constituent assembly were held in July 1984, and the parties of the centre pulled about one-third of the vote, indicating a growing but still fearful movement away from government by terror. International condemnation of the government's human rights record provided encouragement to civilian opposition.

      A new constitution, bringing greater emphasis to human rights guarantees, was approved in May 1985, and presidential elections held the following December produced a landslide victory for the centrist Guatemalan Christian Democratic Party leader, Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, who received some 68 percent of the vote. It was the first election of a civilian president in Guatemala in 15 years.

Charles L. Stansifer William J. Griffith Thomas P. Anderson
      Hopes that Cerezo's election could support human rights reforms and end the civil war were quickly dashed, as once again a civilian president failed to contain the military. The United States increased aid in the 1980s in an effort to sustain the government against guerrilla attack. There was a resurgence of death squad activity, particularly in the capital. The various bands of Marxist guerrillas, largely checked in the time of Ríos Montt and Mejía Víctores, found a new unity in the formation of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (Unidad Revolucionario Nacional Guatemalteco; URNG). A series of attempted military coups were put down by the defense minister, Gen. Héctor Alejandro Gramajo. Labour and peasant unrest also increased during the Cerezo presidency. Some painful economic progress was made, but the insurgency and violence continued to grow in intensity into the 1990s. Because of the deteriorating human rights situation, U.S. military aid, which had been restored, was again suspended in December 1990.

Moving toward peace
      On the international front Guatemala strove to calm relations with neighbouring Belize and to promote a peaceful end to the war between the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and their opponents, the Contras, based in Honduras. In September 1991 Guatemala abandoned its claims of sovereignty over Belize, and the two countries established diplomatic relations. Since Belize's declaration of independence in 1981 most countries had welcomed Belize into the international comity of nations. President Cerezo cooperated with the Central American peace plan proposed by Pres. Oscar Arias Sánchez (Arias Sánchez, Oscar) of Costa Rica. The plan was accepted by all five Central American presidents at a summit meeting in Esquipulas, Guat., in 1987. The plan called for all Central American governments to negotiate with local insurgents and inaugurate a policy of national conciliation and democracy.

      Cerezo's role in the Esquipulas agreement put pressure on his own and succeeding governments to talk with insurgents rather than engage in a policy of repression. Additional pressure came from an unlikely source, a Quiché woman named Rigoberta Menchú (Menchú, Rigoberta), whose father had been killed in the guerrilla campaign against the Guatemala government. Her campaign on behalf of reconciliation and the rights of indigenous peoples and women led to her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. International recognition of Menchú's efforts was a significant factor in convincing Guatemalan leaders to end the violence in their country. Thousands of refugees from Mexico, led by Menchú, began to return in 1993. But it would take years and United Nations (UN) intervention before rebels and the government could come to an agreement.

      Jorge Serrano Elías was elected president in January 1991, but he was forced out of office in June 1993 after trying to assume dictatorial powers; his term was completed by Ramiro de Léon Carpio. Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen won the presidency in a runoff election in January 1996 and continued the negotiations begun by Serrano with the URNG to end the fighting. A cease-fire between the government and the URNG in March 1996 was followed in December by an agreement ending the 36-year-long civil war that had cost the lives of more than 200,000 citizens.

      The implementation of the peace agreement proved difficult. Efforts of the UN-sponsored Truth Commission, modeled after similar commissions in South Africa and El Salvador, found that the army was responsible for the vast majority of human rights abuses. Indigenous peoples suffered the most, and redressing these grievances was a large component of the 1996 peace accords.

      Arzú's successor, Alfonso Portillo Cabrera (2000–04), an unpopular and corrupt president, was followed in 2004 by Óscar Berger Perdomo, who, in trying to heal internal wounds, turned over the former presidential palace and army headquarters to the Academy of Mayan Languages and Maya TV. Perdomo also placed Nobel laureate Menchú in charge of further implementing the 1996 accords. In July 2006 Guatemala officially entered into the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA–DR) with the United States. Also in 2006 the United States increased its military aid to Guatemala for drug interdiction operations, which included destroying clandestine airstrips in the Petén and eradicating the cultivation of poppies throughout the country. Álvaro Colom of the centre-left National Union for Hope won the 2007 elections, becoming the first leftist president since 1996. He promised to improve public education and health care in rural areas.

      Yet despite these steps forward, with three-fifths of its citizenry living in poverty, Guatemala continued to have some of the worst living conditions in Central America, and, plagued by labour discontent, drug cartels, widespread crime, and human rights violations, it faced the 21st century still suffering from the aftereffects of civil war.

Charles L. Stansifer William J. Griffith Thomas P. Anderson

Additional Reading

A geographical introduction to Maya settlements in Guatemala is provided in James D. Nations, The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks & Ancient Cities (2006). Overviews of Guatemalan culture are provided by Maureen E. Shea, Culture and Customs of Guatemala (2001); and Trish O'Kane, Guatemala: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture (1999). C. Mathews Samson, Re-enchanting the World: Maya Protestantism in the Guatemalan Highlands (2007), describes the surge in Protestantism among the Maya after the country's civil war.Among the many excellent studies of the economy, especially the agricultural development of Guatemala, are J.C. Cambranes, Coffee and Peasants: The Origins of the Modern Plantation Economy in Guatemala, 1853–1897 (originally published in Spanish, 1985); Paul J. Dosal, Doing Business with the Dictators: A Political History of United Fruit in Guatemala, 1899–1944 (1993); and David McCreery, Rural Guatemala, 1760–1940 (1994). Edward F. Fischer and Peter Benson, Broccoli and Desire: Global Connections and Maya Struggles in Postwar Guatemala (2006); Edward F. Fischer, Cultural Logics and Global Economics: Maya Identity in Thought and Practice (2001); and Walter E. Little, Mayas in the Marketplace: Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Identity (2004), describe the challenges that the Maya face in the modern era of globalization.

Two useful general histories in English are Peter Calvert, Guatemala: A Nation in Turmoil (1985); and Jim Handy, Gift of the Devil: A History of Guatemala (1984).Many excellent studies of Maya civilization have been published. A particularly successful account, scholarly and based on a thorough study of Maya hieroglyphics and yet written for non-academicians, is Linda Schele and David Freidel, A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (1990), focusing on Maya rulers. Linda Schele and Peter Mathews, The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs (1998), reveals insights and understanding of the spiritual side of Maya life. For a review of Maya civilization and its collapse, especially useful is David Webster, The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse (2002). Twenty-first-century studies that focus on Mayan identity and spiritual issues include Victor D. Montejo, Maya Intellectual Renaissance: Identity, Representation, and Leadership (2005); and Jim Pieper, Guatemala's Folk Saints: Maximon/San Simon, Rey Pascual, Judas, Lucifer, and Others (2002). Brent E. Metz, Ch'orti'-Maya Survival in Eastern Guatemala: Indigeneity in Transition (2006), documents a specific declining Mayan identity.W. George Lovell, Conquest and Survival in Colonial Guatemala: A Historical Geography of the Cuchumatán Highlands, 1500–1821, 3rd ed. (2005), provides a geographical introduction to the colonial period. Oakah L. Jones, Jr., Guatemala in the Spanish Colonial Period (1994), describes in detail Guatemala's place in the Spanish empire, the colonial social structure, and the formation of the Creole mentality. Christopher H. Lutz, Santiago de Guatemala, 1541–1773: City, Caste, and the Colonial Experience (1994), provides a close look at social conditions in the early capital city.Two dictators of the 19th century are covered in detail in Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr., Rafael Carrera and the Emergence of the Republic of Guatemala, 1821–1871 (1993), which is a detailed study of Carrera and his interpreters; and Jorge Mario García Laguardia, La reforma liberal en Guatemala, 3rd ed. (1985), which offers a superb synthesis of the liberal era and Justo Rufino Barrios.The coup that brought down Pres. Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, ending the brief period of radical reform, has been examined carefully by a number of authors. Among them are Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (1982); Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, rev. and expanded ed. (2005); and Piero Gleijeses, Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944–1954 (1991). A history of the involvement of the United States based on CIA documents is explored in Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952–1954, 2nd ed. (2006).The violence that has characterized the history of Guatemala since 1945 is detailed in Roger Plant, Guatemala: Unnatural Disaster (1978); Jonathan L. Fried et al. (eds.), Guatemala in Rebellion: Unfinished History (1983), an Americas Watch Committee report; Robert M. Carmack (ed.), Harvest of Violence: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis (1988, reprinted 1992); and Victor Perera, Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy (1993). Events in Guatemala following the 1996 peace accords are described in Rachel Sieder (ed.), Guatemala After the Peace Accords (1998); and Kristi Anne Stølen, Guatemalans in the Aftermath of Violence: The Refugees' Return (2007).Charles L. Stansifer

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